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Final bow for Marion High School director

Marion’s Janet Killough makes her curtain call with final musical before retirement

Staff writer

With every production, there are new challenges for Marion theatrical director Janet Killough, even as she readies for her final musical this weekend.

“You have to choose a show you have the people for,” she said. “I knew I had the right kind of people for this show, plus I thought it would be a lot of fun.”

She thought the audience would especially enjoy All Shook Up because the music was mainly Elvis songs, she said.

The focal point of the piece is Chad, a young man who ends up in a small midwestern town when his motorcycle breaks down. Set in the 1950s, things like dancing and public affection are outlawed, making Chad a rebel.

“It’s kind of like if the town from Footloose was in the ’50s,” senior and lead actor Charlie Nordquist said.

“I have to have a challenge,” she said. “If you put any cast with a show, it’s a different show, but I wanted to do something I hadn’t done before.”

The need for a challenge was a desire Killough wanted for her students as well, which was why she chose a difficult musical, she said.

“Then they’ll feel like they’ve really accomplished something and they’re successful when that curtain opens,” she said.

One of the keys to Killough’s process is preparing the cast and crew for if things go wrong, from malfunctioning microphones to problems with sets.

During last year’s production, the lights stopped working, leaving them to use flashlights to get around, and spotlights borrowed from the fire department for the stage.

“It’s not the same every night,” she said. “Something happens or someone says a line that’s wrong, and you have to figure out how you’re going to solve the problem.”

In her four years of high school, the musicals have helped senior Emmy Hess break out of her shell, she said.

“I used to be kind of shy,” she said. “It’s helped me with my communication skills, public speaking, and confidence.”

One of the rewards of directing is building a relationship with students, year after year, Killough said.

“They’re still kids, and I get really close to these kids,” she said. “We’re like a little family.”

Senior Sam Kelsey, who enjoys the opportunity to pass it on to her younger classmates, recognizes the feeling of family.

“It’s the people involved,” she said. “I’ve made the best friends I ever had in the musical, especially with the upperclassmen. Now since I’m an upperclassman, I’m trying to be there for the lower classes.”

It’s not just the veteran actors who contribute, it’s nice to see new talent join as well, Killough said.

“I love to see the new kids on the stage too, because the people onstage are not the ones they usually hang out with,” she said. “They build these new relationships and that’s fun to watch.”

Several seniors mentioned pursuing theatre to some extent after graduation, but Charlie is the only one to choose it as a college major.

One of the benefits of the experience is getting to masquerade as someone else, he said.

“Your costume is the last transformation into another person,” he said.

Last modified Nov. 15, 2018

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